WSL gameweek 2 preview: Local derbies, attendance records & heavyweight clashes

It's another big weekend of WSL action
It's another big weekend of WSL action / Harriet Lander/GettyImages | Visionhaus/GettyImages | Angel Martinez/GettyImages | Lewis Storey/GettyImages

After a chaotic opening weekend in the WSL, gameweek two has a lot to live up to.

Gameweek one treated supporters to a pair of big upsets, with Chelsea and Manchester City toppled, but with matches in major stadiums, heavyweight clashes and derbies, this week could be just as fun.

Here's everything to look out for in the WSL this weekend.

WSL attendance record set to shatter

Katie McCabe
Arsenal face Tottenham at the Emirates / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

The WSL attendance record is set to be broken at the Emirates during Saturday's north London derby, with over 51,000 tickets sold for the fixture between Arsenal and Tottenham. Tickets will remain on sale up until kickoff for those wishing to attend.

The current attendance record was also set at the north London derby, with a crowd of 38,262 turning out at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in November 2019.

Jonas Eidevall was keen to emphasise the importance of the tickets being purchased as opposed to given away or discounted for the sake of the women's game's sustainability.

"Remember it's 50,000sold tickets," said Eidevall. "It's not giveaways, it's not sold for a discounted price; it's sold tickets. "I think that's really, really special because that means doing this, the way the club has done it, it's sustainable. It shows that the interest there is for real.

Arsenal vs Tottenham

When is kick off? Saturday 24 September, 13:30 (BST)
Where is the match being played? The Emirates
TV channel/live stream? BBC One, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport Website (UK), FA Player (international)
What time does coverage start? 13:15 (BST)
Referee? Rebecca Welch

Brighton and Reading look to bounce back from heavy defeats

Emma Kullberg, Hope Powell
Brighton were beaten by Arsenal last time out / Harriet Lander/GettyImages

Brighton and Reading were both on the receiving end of heavy defeats and potentially harsh refereeing decisions on the opening weekend of the WSL.

Brighton suffered a 4-0 loss to Arsenal, but played 83 minutes with 10 players after Emma Kullberg's dismissal, while Reading lost to Manchester United by the same score line, with United's second coming from a debatable penalty kick.

The two side's mustered the fewest shots of any team during the WSL's opening weekend - two for Reading and three for Brighton - and fewest open play sequences with 10 or more passes - one for Reading and none for Brighton.

The pair have also have the top two leakiest defences in the WSL this year, Brighton conceding 33 goals in the league in 2022, closely followed by Reading's 32. Which team can turn their fortunes around on Sunday?

Brighton vs Reading

When is kick off? Sunday 25 September, 14:00 (BST)
Where is the match being played? Amex Stadium
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK & international)
Referee? Lauren Impey

Man Utd have a point to prove in east London

Katie Zelem, Claudia Walker
West Ham have a habit of being a bogey side for Manchester United / Charlotte Tattersall/GettyImages

A 1-1 draw with West Ham in March was one of the critical games that torpedoed Manchester United’s chances of finishing in the WSL top three last season. The Hammers were also the first side outside of the league’s established big three to beat or even score a top flight goal against United back in December 2019, so there is an element of being a bogey team about them.

Marc Skinner’s strengthened United started in fine fashion last weekend, blowing Reading away inside 35 minutes. But West Ham also started well with a decent win over an improved Everton and it certainly won’t be an easy game for a visiting side with a point to prove.

“I think they’re good,” Skinner said of the Hammers.

“I have no doubt, we have to be on our mettle against them. We went there last year and obviously took a draw from it – horrific weather conditions – but we have to go there and play a very tough team at their home ground. We have to be very good to win the game.”

West Ham vs Manchester United

When is kick off? Sunday 25 September, 15:00 (BST)
Where is the match being played? Chigwell Construction Stadium
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK & international)
Referee? Emily Heaslip

How good are Aston Villa?

Carla Ward, Rachel Corsie, Danielle Turner
Aston Villa were awesome against Manchester City / Barrington Coombs/GettyImages

Aston Villa turned in one of the performances of the opening weekend with a stunning 4-3 victory over Manchester City. It was an exciting, fun, energetic performance from Carla Ward's side, with their new look front three of Kirsty Hanson, Rachel Daly and Alisha Lehman particularly impressing.

Villa are one of a cluster of sides who could end up anywhere from last season's finish of ninth to knocking on the door of the top four. A trip to a Leicester side tipped for a relegation battle this term will be a completely different test of their credentials this term.

"It's gonna be a tougher game for me than City because it's going to be a completely different element," said Carla Ward. "People will look at it and probably expect us to go there and win the game, and I think that's a different type of pressure altogether."

Leicester vs Aston Villa

When is kick off? Sunday 25 September, 15:00 (BST)
Where is the match being played? King Power Stadium
TV channel/live stream? FA Player (UK & international)
Referee? Thomas Parsons

Which WSL heavyweight will recover from opening day shocks?

Bethany England, Fran Kirby
Chelsea suffered a shock opening day defeat / Lewis Storey/GettyImages

Chelsea and Manchester City have been the two dominant sides in English football over the past few seasons, with the pair winning all nine of the last nine domestic honours on offer. However, both suffered shock defeats on the opening day of the season - Chelsea losing to newly-promoted Liverpool, and City being beaten by Aston Villa.

The two WSL heavyweights go head to head on Sunday, looking to bounce back from their surprise defeats last time out.

"The reaction has been really good," Gareth Taylor said of City's defeat to Villa.

"We are a new group of players that are adapting to each other, and there has been an element of change, but we're comfortable with that and we know that eventually we'll come out the other side and be in a really good place."

Chelsea vs Manchester City

When is kick off? Sunday 25 September, 16:00 (BST)
Where is the match being played? Kingsmeadow
TV channel/live stream? Sky Sports Football, Sky Sports Premier League, Sky Sports Main Event (UK), FA Player (international)
What time does coverage start? 15:00 (BST)
Referee? Abigail Byrne

The Merseyside derby returns

Melissa Lawley, Esme Morgan
Liverpool and Everton last met in the WSL in 2019 / Alex Livesey/GettyImages

The Merseyside derby returns to the WSL for the first time since November 2019 on Sunday. Just as with the top flight's last match up between Liverpool and Everton, this weekend's clash takes place at Anfield.

Everton have sold out their away section and a five-figure crowd is expected for the clash.

Matt Beard is in his second spell at Liverpool so is no stranger to a Merseyside derby, but for new Everton boss Brian Sorensen, the blockbuster fixture comes in just his second game in charge.

"I think the whole City is buzzing when you have a derby and it's just really nice to be a part of," said Sorensen. "I think the [older] girls have been talking to the new ones that are coming in and saying: 'this is the game of the season'. Everybody knows it's a big game and we'll do everything we can to win it."

Liverpool vs Everton

When is kick off? Sunday 25 September, 18:45 (BST)
Where is the match being played? Anfield
TV channel/livestream? Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Football, Sky Sports Premier League (UK), FA Player (international)
What time does coverage start? 18:30 (BST)
Referee? Andrew Kitchen